Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lazy Sunday Wine Tasting at the Colorado Wine Company

I needed to get out of the house today for what the Victorians would have called "an airing," and decided to go to the Colorado Wine Company's "Lazy Sunday Wine Tasting." Located in the small town of Eagle Rock in Los Angeles (home of Occidental College), the Colorado Wine Company has a mission that Good Wine Under $20 readers will love: reasonably priced, high-quality wines. Most of their selections are under $35, and their ever-changing Sunday tastings (2 whites, 2 reds, and a selection of cheeses from Auntie Em's) are only $10. (Friday tastings from 5:30-8:30 pm are slightly more, with 5 wines poured instead of 4).

This wine store and tasting has a hip atmosphere. After browsing the bookcases shelved with wine, and the vertical hanging racks I went into the uber-cool tasting room with its modern furniture and candles. Everyone at the tasting was young, gorgeous, and dressed in black; I failed on all three counts. There were pairs and groups, and it was clearly a popular neighborhood spot, relaxed and comfortable. I was served an intriguing mix of wines from Oregon, Spain, the Central Coast of California, and Napa. The pourer was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Bring a designated driver, too, because the pours are very generous and the wines are so excellent you won't want to spit.

Here's what was on offer:

2005 A to Z Pinot Gris ($12.99): This is a collaborative effort of four producers intent on making low cost wines. Aromas of peach and pear led to a creamy, lush, and round flavor palate that was soft and easy to drink. Very good QPR.

2004 Muga Rioja ($13.99): This white Rioja tripped up a lot of tasters like me who were expecting a red wine! Made of Viura and Malvasia grapes, this tart and refreshing white would be a hit with those who love French sauvignon blancs. The wine had aromas of grass, herbs, and Granny Smith apples, and these aromas were echoed on the palate. I've never had one of these wines before, but I liked it and felt that its price was in line with sauvignon blancs that had very good QPR.

2004 Campion Pinot Noir Central Coast ($18.99):
The winemaker, Larry Brooks, is a big believer in the power of terroir. Here, he co-fermented Edna Valley Pinot Noir with 7-8% Pinot Gris. It was a rich, ruby red with flowery aromatics and a juicy cherry and strawberry set of flavors that finished with just a touch of mushroom. If you like your pinots fruity, this would represent good QPR.

2004 Sandoval Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99): This wine has excellent QPR. Rich garnet in color, with lush aromas of dark chocolate, berries, and a tinge of pepper it drinks smooth, rich and round with a note of vanilla and earth at the very end. All the flavors that you expect from the aromas are there in abundance. What a wine, and all at a relatively low 13.5% alc/vol. This proves that you can make an intense cabernet without letting the alcohol levels creep up into the clouds.

Armed with an informative tasting sheet and a need to buy both the Muga Rioja and the Sandoval cab, I went back for a more leisurely browse and was struck by how excellent the wine selection is. If you find large wine stores overwhelming and/or you have eclectic tastes, Colorado Wine is for you. The bottle count is small, but there are surprising bottles on nearly every shelf. Mexican Nebbiolo? Got it. Portuguese wine? Yep. A whole section of Oregon wines? That, too. It was hard to remain under control, but in the end I limited myself to picking up my very first Connecticut wine (the NV Sharpe Hill Vineyard Ballet of Angels, $10.99), a second Spanish white kindly recommended by Sonadora over at Wannabe Wino who is helping me out with my New Year's resolution to drink more wines from Spain (2005 Nora Albarino, $13.99), and a honey of a sangiovese (1998 Vigna Benefizio Morellino di Scansano, $14.99). I also found a bottle of NV Dover Canyon Renegade Red ($10.99), and I was thrilled to find this after reading their blog for months!

Shopping at Colorado Wine Company will definitely keep you from falling into a wine rut! And their tastings mean that you can sample before you buy. A great experience, and one that I look forward to repeating (with better shoes and a little more attention to my wardrobe).


Anonymous said...

Colorado Wine Company is probably my favorite wine store in the LA area. John and Jen are really friendly and always put a very interesting (and cheap!) selection of wines on their shelves. Just recently, we tried a Copertino Riserva from Puglia and a Weins-Prum riesling, both of which were terrific and less than $20.

They may be fairly "hip," but it's a Pittsburgh bowling alley compared to that other hot wine store on the East side, Silverlake Wine. I wouldn't be surprised if they put a bouncer outside that place one of these days.


Dr. Debs said...

Welcome, Seb! Great blog, by the way, and welcome to the real center of the universe (the southern and eastern portion of Pasadena!). I know, the Silverlake Wine web site makes me want to change my clothes it's so hip. It's great for the wine biz to see so many 20s so into wine--I just have to remember to comb my hair next time! And they were very friendly so it's not like they made me feel out of place. Mission Wines is great (you will like their Saturday tastings, if you like Colorado Wine Co.). And they tell me a new wine bar is opening up just down the street from Mission called 750ML.

What so impressed me at Colorado Wine Co was the RANGE. God, it made me feel like I had lots of work to do on my wine regions. In a good way of course.

Sonadora said...

Good selections there! I'm glad you picked up the Nora, I just noticed that Winewaves had reviewed it this year as well. A Connecticut wine, huh? Despite that being my homestate, I have yet to sample any wines from there. I'll be interested to see what you think. Perhaps that will be my mission next time I am visiting the folks.

Dr. Debs said...

Hey, Sonadora! The winery is in Pomfret--I mean, Pomfret! The one I bought is an off-dry white blend. I'll let you know what I think!